In our latest blog, scientist Kate Fulcher explores the mysterious ‘black goo’ used in Egyptian burials nearly 3,000 years ago.— British Museum (@britishmuseum) May 20, 2020
She investigates what it’s made of and what it can tell us about life in ancient Egypt: https://t.co/oPakiIuZrh pic.twitter.com/HLOTVFpWsJ
The funerary practices of ancient Egypt are still fascinating us today. Archaeologists have unearthed mummies from thousands of years ago, meticulously preserved by techniques that are not written down, so they are studied and sometimes reverse-engineered in order to be understood. One of these methods is the use of "black goo," used to seal coffins and therefore hiding the craftsmanship of the artwork on mummies. One example is the mummy of Djedkhonsiu-ef-ankh, a priest who died around 3,000 years ago.
After Djedkhonsiu-ef-ankh died, he was mummified, wrapped in fine linen and sewn into his plaster and linen mummy case. This case was beautifully painted in bright colours and gilded with gold leaf over the face. At the time of his funeral, he was lowered into his coffin, and carried to his tomb. Then several litres of warm black ‘goo’ were poured all over the mummy case, covering it completely, effectively cementing the case into the coffin. The lid was then placed on the coffin, and he was left to journey forth to the underworld.
Djedkhonsiu-ef-ankh was not unique. Though not used by everyone – there are a number of instances of this ‘black goo’ being used in Egyptian burials. But what is it? And if we find out what it was made from, can we learn more about why the Egyptians used it?
The black goo was found in objects besides coffins. Was it used as a religious practice or for more practical purposes -or both? Researchers at the British Museum's Department of Scientific Research analyzed the substance to find out what it was made of and what that can tell us, which you can read about at the British Museum's blog. -via Strange Company